Vigilance can protect children from online woes

Published 10:57 am Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The recent indictment of a Lexington man who solicited sex with a Clark County teen serves as a reminder for parents of the importance of monitoring children’s and teens’ social media accounts.

Terry Duncan, 63, was indicted last week by a Clark County grand jury attempting to set up a sexual encounter with a juvenile over the Internet.

Duncan was charged with use of a minor in a sexual performance and prohibited use of electronic communications system to procure a minor/peace officer to engage in sexual offense following his arrest in March.

Email newsletter signup

According to Winchester Police, Duncan has known the female juvenile, who is 17, for about five years. After detectives received a complaint, they took over communications with Duncan while posing as the juvenile. Duncan established a meeting with the girl at a truck stop along Interstate 64 in Clark County. When he arrived at the agreed time, he was arrested by Winchester Police.

A recent study found 22 percent of teenagers log onto social media accounts more than 10 times a day.

The threats of online bullying, identity theft, exposure to inappropriate content and predators are very real. Those risks shouldn’t stop younger generations from using technology or social media, but they require extra measures from parents and guardians.

It is more important than ever to prepare children for life in a technologically-driven world.

Talk with children about the benefits and dangers of social media, and set some rules from the start. Rules can include time limits for on screen time, asking permission before adding any new friends on social media accounts and establishing an understanding that accounts will be monitored regularly. Remind young social media users that they must also act responsibly online in regards to what they post.

Explain that an online reputation can be as or more important as a real-world reputation when applying for college, seeking internships or trying to land a job.

Then, follow through. Check the privacy settings on your kids’ accounts and apply the strictest settings. Check accounts daily for any suspicious activity or potentially predatory friends or correspondence, even if that requires logging in to your teen’s account periodically. If there is an understanding up front that this is a stipulation of cell phone, Internet and social media usage, you can avoid any feelings of invasion of privacy on your child’s part.

Most importantly, set a good example of how to property and responsibly use social media. Keep in mind the content you share, the photos you post and the decorum you exhibit online.

By implementing some of these measures, a local family was able to protect their teenage child. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Almost daily there are stories about online bullying or children targeted by predators or bullies online. Taking some small steps could have a big pay off.